Photography and text by Mustansir H
The 4th of September witnessed the launch of the two ‘big’ bikes by India Kawasaki Motors (IKM). Apart from the excitement on the unveiling of the flagship motorcycles from the Japanese manufacturers, journalists were eager to know the IKM’s business plan for the Indian market and their relationship with Bajaj Auto.
Present at the launch was Mr. Yuri Horiuchi (M.D. IKM) and Mr. Shigeto Nishikawa (Dy. M.D. IKM). The event started with Mr. Nishikawa giving a brief introduction of IKM. India Kawasaki Motors is a 100% subsidiary of Kawasaki Heavy Industries. They currently operate in the same premises as Bajaj Auto in Akurdi, but have an independent setup. They have two separate assembly lines for the engine and frame capable of assembling 500 units. Currently the Ninja 300 and 650 arrive as CKD (Completely Knocked Down) units from their plant in Thailand. But the new superbikes, will be arriving to the Indian shores as CBU (Completely built units) owing to the limited numbers and constraints in logistics. He also mentioned that the niche market for 1000-1600cc motorcycles has been growing exponentially in India since 2011. The Market for these big bikes is about 400 units/year and is growing at 30% per year. IKM aims to capture 20% of this market share by 2015.
Mr. Horiuchi took over to launch the individual bikes and gave a brief overview of the motorcycles and explained the salient features and improvements of the new bikes over its predecessors that lack the ‘R’. The most important mention was that IKM will sell the two superbikes independent from Bajaj unlike the smaller Ninjas at their own independent showrooms. As of now, only Pune has been decided as the location for the Kawasaki showroom but certainly many more will and must be opened across India at a later date. Mr. Horiuchi failed to comment on when and where the other showrooms will be opened. He assured that many more models should be expected from IKM. The bikes will be sold in Maharashtra only at their flagship showroom at Wakdewadi with bookings opening from 5th Sept. Deliveries are the be expected by the end of September.
Kawasaki’s plans for India
During the following Q&A session, both Mr. Horiuchi and Mr. Nishikawa fielded the numerous questions mostly pertaining to the future of IKM and their plans for India in particular. Currently, IKM will sell the bigger capacity bikes (over 1000cc ) by themselves and plan to create a platform to expand their operations. Also, the specialized skills required to service and provide support for these bigger bikes makes it necessary to have a special and independent workshop. The nature of the relationship with Bajaj Auto will be reconsidered at a later date. This is primarily due to the different business plan and strategy required to market these bigger bikes.
The current independent IKM facility within the Bajaj factory at Akurdi is assembling 1500 to 2000 units of the 300 and 650 Ninja that are built with 30 to 40% parts sourced locally. Even though the present plant is more than capable, owing to the limited numbers of the bigger bikes to be sold, they must be expected as CBU only. In Pune, where the Kawasaki showroom will be inaugurated on 7th Sept, the Ninja 300 and 650 will be sold alongside the newly launched models, in other cities, the probiking showrooms will sell the smaller Ninjas.
Introducing bikes with smaller engine displacement like the ZX6R is unlikely since the homologation process is different for sub-800cc bikes and is thus not necessarily in the plans, so expect a few more ‘big’ bikes like the Z1000 the Versys in the coming months.
IKM also plans to start exporting parts manufactured in India by the end of the year. Quality of the parts made in India are of international standard and with help of the numerous vendors that Bajaj already has developed, parts in India have proven to be cheaper by 30% until last year, though the figure must have changed due to the volatile market this year, the project is still lucrative. Parts that are going to be sold include the suspension, meter assemblies, head and tail lamps, turn indicators etc.
Thus the independent foray of Kawasaki in India has begun with a bang. The introduction of the flagship bikes are indication of the confidence in the Indian consumer of these larger displacement motorcycles. Even though they are a niche market as yet, it seems to be a rapidly growing segment and IKM definitely wants a piece of the cake. The prospect of Indian manufactured parts sourced by IKM being exported should definitely be a shot in the arm for the currently slowing industry. Looking forward to big bikes and big things from India Kawasaki Motors.
The Kawasaki ZX14R price for India and other details
The ZX14R has a range of improvements over the original ZX14. It is claimed to be a direct descendant of the revolutionary original Ninja. It is the fastest accelerating production motorcycle in the world and is thus the flagship model of the company and is sublime in handling with a balanced performance.
The 1,441 cc liquid cooled engine is an in-line four cylinder masterpiece having DOHC with 16 valves making 200 Ps at 10,000 RPM that is bumped up to 210 Ps with the Ram Air technology. 162.5 Nm provides the oodles of torque expected form this engine. This bike makes about 7 Ps more power and 7.5 Nm more torque than its predecessor the ZX14, all thanks to the range of improvements made to the engine internals. The longer stroke cylinder is coupled with revised unpolished ports, completely redesigned and higher lift cams and shorter gearing. This is coupled with attention to the fuel economy that has been improved by the ECU which meters fuel directly with the riders throttle input. Thus claiming to be a greener and more environmentally conscious than the older version.
The Aluminium monocoque frame consists of 50% new parts with special attention to handling and high speed stability. Few components have been changed from plastic to aluminium to add to the rigidity in the frame. The longer swinging arm aids in high speed stability and coupled with Bridgestone Battalax S20 tyres promises to inspire confidence in all situations. The suspension has been re-worked at the front and back with stiffer springs, revised damping and more resistance to bottom out. The 1.39 kgs saved on just the wheels are sure to make a difference in the handling and road-holding ability. The more pronounced fins on the side fairing aid in better heat dissipation from the engine and significantly reduce the heat to the arms and legs of the rider.
The instrument cluster is a dual-analogue styled speedometer and tachometer with easy to read black faces with white markings. The digital display also includes external air temperatures, a more precise fuel gauge and remaining range functions.
The ‘R’ comes with a few technology marvels from the Kawasaki stable. Namely the KRTC, the dual power modes and a more advanced ABS. The KRTC (Kawasaki Traction Control) has three features, with the first two modes for non slippery surfaces with attention to maximum acceleration and the third new mode only on the ZX14R for improved stability on slippery surfaces. The dual power modes consist of a full power mode and a low power mode which channels only 75% of the engine power for the rider. All this on an exciting motorcycle that promises to be as much fun as it is versatile comes with a price of 16.9 lakh ex-showroom, Pune.
The Kawasaki ZX10R price for India and other details
The ZX10R is the flagship litre-bike from the Kawasaki stables. Built with the race circuit in mind, it promises to be a thrilling experience to ride. This bike too comes with a host of improvements over the original ZX10R and is the first complete redesign since the original was first launched. This new bike promises to offer the circuit type performance with real world ride-ability. The goal was to allow more riders to experience the thrill of a high-spec superbike without compromising the hardcore ‘Ninja’ appeal.
The 998 cc 4-stroke in-line 4 engine is liquid cooled. The single shaft engine balancer has been added to reduce vibrations and simplify the number of vibration-damping parts, this has also led to a decrease in overall weight adding to a lighter steering and effectively better handling. The all new ‘cassette type’ transmission allows for easy change in gear ratios track-side providing the best track-day experience. The Ram air intake is positioned closer to the front of the bike. All this translates into 200.1 Ps power at 13,000 RPM that is increased to 209.9 Ps with Ram air. The 112 Nm torque on offer is more than adequate for most applications this bike maybe subjected to. Also included is the ISC (Idle Speed Control) valve that adjusts the idling automatically and thus improves starting and
driveablity from stops. It also helps meet the stringent energy requirements. Attention to detail is reflected in the 632 gm all new fuel pump which weighs 56 gm less than the original.
The exhaust pipe is made from a ‘heat-resistant’ titanium alloy that is more durable than the standard titanium pipes and also has a larger bore. It has almost the same diameter and length as the race headers. A slip on after-market pipe can easily boost the performance. The small stainless steel silencer has a straight pipe construction which results in an increase in performance and the design boosts the mass centralization.
The frame is a 100% new and consists of an Aluminium twin spar design. A 7% increase in torsional rigidity makes the bike easier to control with greater cornering stability and a high level of feedback to the rider. The all new aluminium swing arm is an all cast 3 piece construction with a 17% increase in torsional rigidity which is longer than the original 10R but shorter than the rivals in its class. The BPF (Big Piston Fork) of 43 mm inner tube diameter has a smoother pitching motion with increased damping at loads and also contributes to a decrease in weight. The electronic steering dampers that were developed with aid from Ohlin to improve the riders experience. The rear is a horizontal back-link suspension with better feedback due to the softer range of adjustment possible and also aids in the centralization of mass.
The chassis now only weighs 198 kgs which is 10 kgs lighter than the original. The 17 litre fuel tank has also been redesigned for ergonomics and centralization of the mass. The adjustable foot-pegs can be lowered by 15 mm for a more relaxed riding experienced. Overall, the new ZX10R has foot-pegs positioned 2 mm forward and 5 mm lower than the original, this coupled with the 10 mm lower seat and lower handlebars greatly enhances the riding comfort.
820 gm have been reduced from the tyres leading to a drastic reduction in unsprung weight. This is due to the gravity-cast all new 3-spoke alloys. Though the front brakes have not been changed, the rear brake calliper has been reduced to 30 mm from 38 mm to reduce the weight while not compromising on braking power. The mirrors can be easily detached and contain 2 LED bulbs turn signals. The pipe styled rear frap is also easy to remove for a day at the circuit.
The meter cluster boasts of the first of its kind (in mass-produced motorcycles) bar graph tachometer and shift indicators that consist of back lighting LEDs. The display also shows a special ‘eco’ mode when the vehicle is being operated at the economical range. The LCD display shows the basic speed, odometer and clock but changes to display gear position, lap timer and speed respectively in race mode. The LED brightness adjusts automatically to 100%, 20% and 8% accordingly in daytime, twilight and night which can also be adjusted manually.
The ZX10R is packed with special features as well namely the S-KTRC, Power modes and the KIBS. The Sport- Kawasaki Traction Control (S-KTRC) allows power slides and power lifts as long as effective traction is maintained. The rider can choose between 3 modes depending on the riding surface and can also choose to turn the assist off completely. The mode selection will also be memorized after the vehicle has been turned off thus preventing frequent adjustments. The 3 stage power mode selector enables the pilot to choose between full (100%), middle mode value (75%) and low (50 to 60%) power with a reducing curve. The Kawasaki Intelligent Anti-lock Braking System or KIBS is a high precision aid that takes feedback from clutch, gear, throttle position, engine speed along with the hydraulic pressure in the front brake. This suppresses rear wheel lifting and improves feedback and allows the rider to push the bike to the very limit with confidence.
This bike which is claimed to be the most advanced Ninja yet from Kawasaki will come at a cost of 15.7 lakh ex-showroom, Pune.